Victor Santana’s property was damaged at least twice before police say he shot and killed two teens who were trespassing in a detached garage of his West Dayton home, according to records obtained by this newspaper.
He allegedly purchased the firearm used in the fatal shootings less than two months after his truck was criminally damaged.
But Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. said residents cannot use lethal force against others for simply trespassing or causing damage to their property.
“People have a right of self-defense,” Heck said. “But you cannot shoot or kill people because they walk across your ground or because they enter your yard or because they happen to be in your garage.”
Santana, 63, was indicted by a grand jury on Thursday on four counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and five counts of felonious assault related to the Aug. 28 deaths of 17-year-olds Javier Harrison and Devin Henderson.
Santana is accused of fatally shooting the teens and firing at another who were trespassing in a detached garage of his home at 848 Conners St. in West Dayton.
Prosecutors said Santana does not have a reasonable claim of self-defense.
While trespassing or damaging another person’s property are crimes, the offenses are not punishable by death, Heck said.
Santana has been a victim of multiple property crimes over the years.
On Dec. 30, 2018, Dayton police were called to 848 Conners St. on a criminal damaging complaint.
A 911 caller told police someone shattered his truck windows and there were ongoing issues with “juves” — short for juveniles — who live in the neighborhood, a police report states.
Responding officers found a Dodge Dakota with its passenger window shattered and a damaged front windshield.
Police spoke with Santana, who said he heard glass shatter outside his home, then he looked out front and saw a group of eight to 10 juveniles standing next to his vehicle, the report states.
Santana said he yelled at the youths to get away from his vehicle, and they ran off, the report states.
Santana was instructed to call the police if saw the suspects again.
In June 2016, Dayton police were called to the Conners Street residence about a criminal damaging complaint.
Santana’s sister met with police and said the property was vacant and her brother was residing in California.
His then 54-year-old sister told police she mowed the grass and took care of the property.
She said someone removed the storm door and the main door was damaged and forced off its hinges.
Police said they could not enter the home because the door was still secured and halfway boarded up, a police report states.
The teens Santana is accused of killing were in what they thought was an abandoned garage to smoke marijuana, Heck said. He said part of the property was boarded up, and the garage had no lighting or electricity.
Heck said people in Santana’s situation should call the police instead of taking lives.
“I mean, that’s what I do. That’s what I think anybody would do, and that’s the reasonable expectation, that you would call the police and ask for their assistance,” he said.
He added, “This is not someone who was breaking into a house. This is not someone who was breaking into an occupied car.”
Citizens can only use lethal force for self-defense, defense of another or defense of their homes or occupied vehicles, he said.
Dayton has hundreds of trespassing cases each year, and homicides could skyrocket if people were allowed to kill others for committing that offense, Heck said.
Both Henderson and Harrison were shot in the back, according to autopsy records.
According to the prosecutor’s office, Santana legally purchased the gun he used in the fatal shooting on Feb. 23 of this year, less than two months after his vehicle was damaged.
The 848 Conners St. home was vandalized after the shooting by someone who wrote “murder” in spray paint on the front of the residence. The home burned down not long after that in a suspected arson fire.
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